TheRoot.com, By Shanelle Genai, Posted November 3rd 2023
In the spirit of the Hip-Hop 50, a.k.a. the 50th anniversary of hip-hop’s inception, Will Smith is taking all the way back to 1988 to reflect on a pivotal year in the genre’s history—and he’s being joined by none other than fellow rap legened Queen Latifah.
Speaking to each other in a new episode for Will’s Audible and Wondery limited series podcast, Class of ‘88,the two discussed the role hip-hop played in impacting the mainstream culture and how their respective careers took part in it, too.
Specifically touching on Queen’s groundbreaking song “Ladies First” feat. Monie Love—which broke the mold by pushing forward two women rappers into the forefront of the genre—the Girls Trip and Equalizer actress explained that the song was necessary to do to make herself stand out from amongst the other women rappers coming up alongside of her.
“To call a record, ‘Ladies First,’ that was hardcore,” Will said. “Hip-Hop was you know, pretty male-dominated. Today it seems obvious but it was like…that was revolutionary.
“I had to. I had to, because I had to—how am I gonna make myself different than my heroes like Salt-n-Pepa, Sweet Tee? You know? How am I gonna do this? I need to carve a path that’s different from them. Maybe not so far, but it has to be different. And so that was the goal.”
Speaking to how the song came about, she continued:
“I decided to call the record ‘Ladies First,’ so a lot of it was, ‘Why am I beefing with these girls? Why these girls keep beefing with each other? We could do a lot more if we stood together.’ I.E. ‘Ladies First.’ Why don’t I just embrace you and maybe you’ll embrace me.
“And let me encourage you, rather than saying ‘Why you dissin’ each other? Why you tryna battle?’ It was more like, ‘Hey, we ladies. Let’s do this together, we could do this. We could do more together.”
Queen went on to share that she and Monie only took one day to make the song and shed a little light on why she’d almost always don crowns in her videos: “I can’t afford to get my hair done all the time, I’m about to put these crowns on.”
All eight episodes of Class of ‘88 are available to stream now on Audible and wherever you listen to podcasts.